Michelle just wants to have a Wie bit of fun
Surprise first-round leader Wie hopes to last the distance by simply 'having fun'
Ranked 179th in the world and winless since 2014, Michelle Wie would not be playing at the HSBC Women's Champions this week if not for a sponsors' invite.
While the rain clouds hovered over Sentosa Golf Club's New Tanjong Course yesterday on the first day of the US$1.5 million (S$2.12m) tournament, it was the 27-year-old American's star that shone brightest, as she topped the 63-strong field with a superb six-under 66.
The word "fun" was a recurring word in Wie's post-round remarks.
"I feel good about it (my round)," said the 2014 US Open champion. "I had fun out there... it's a marathon this week, it's not a sprint, but I have to say I'm very proud of where I've positioned myself today.
"Hopefully, I can keep it going the next three days, keep it rolling and keep having fun."
The Hawaii-born golfer has had little luck with her health issues since her Major win in 2014, suffering problems with her wrist, hips, ankles and even from multiple food allergies.
"It feels good to play without much pain," said Wie, who also credited her coach David Leadbetter for telling her to abandon the bent over "table top" stance which she had used in her putting for two seasons.
"To go out there and just play some golf and focus on my game rather than trying to finish out rounds. I'm very proud of myself today.
"It's always exciting to be on the top of the leaderboard or near the top of the leaderboard.
"Even though it's just the first day, I want to just keep building and, hopefully, I can take it day by day, hole by hole, shot by shot and play as hard as I can."
Wie will do well to take note of the chasing pack, with world No. 2 Ariya Jutanugarn, former world No 1 Park Inbee, Mo Martin, Anna Nordqvist, and Brooke Henderson just a stroke behind in joint-second place.
"I wouldn't say everything is perfect, but obviously I am moving the right direction," said South Korean Park, who had a bogey-free round yesterday.
"I have gained some confidence over last week, and obviously today."
Another sponsors' invite Paula Creamer, who won the tournament at Sentosa's Serapong Course in 2014, was on four under with four other golfers.
World No. 1 Lydia Ko ended the day tied-for-12th at three under.
Ko said: "I birdied two of the first five holes, and then I started missing a few putts... it was close and it just didn't end up going in.
"After that, I wasn't hitting it as close, but then, I made a good birdie on the first par-five on the back. It's nice to end the round with a birdie on 18th
"Some holes were gettable and some were tricky, but I think six under by Michelle is really an impressive round.
"Hopefully, I'll be able to keep consistently playing well and give myself opportunities for birdies."
Meanwhile, defending champion Jang Ha Na of South Korea is joint-21st with a two-under 70, while local qualifier Amanda Tan is tied-59th with a four-over 76.
"The first tee-shot meant a lot to me because it was my first-ever start and the first tee-shot as a professional," said Tan, 18, who made her first start as a pro yesterday
"I was nervous for sure, but I wasn't as nervous as three years ago.
"Throughout the round, I just kind of keep pacing myself, whereas before, I would be trying to look out who is out there and stuff like that.
"I am a bit more focused this time for sure, and I see myself improving and going the right direction, and now it's just fine- tuning and getting better."
66: Michelle Wie 67: Mo Martin, Anna Nordqvist, Brooke Henderson, Ariya Jutanugarn, Park Inbee 68: Paula Creamer, Mi Jung Hur, Ryann O'Toole, Stacy Lewis, Sung Hyun Park 69: Moriya Jutanugarn, Charley Hull, Minjee Lee, Morgan Pressel, Danielle Kang, Caroline Masson, Suzann Pettersen, Hyo Joo Kim, Lydia Ko
Selected: 70: Lexi Thompson, Feng Shanshan, Chun In Gee, Jang Ha Na 71: Amy Yang, Angela Stanford
73: So Yeon Ryu 76: Amanda Tan